PCB Manufacturers, who is best? (Best cost vs quality)

Ok, so I've got my pcb designed and ready to go, but I want to get the best price possible for the quality/wait. Problem is, I'm a newbie in respects to getting my own PCB's made. As far as prototyping goes, I've found ITead Studios, which is $16 per 10 units, including shipping, and I've also heard of the sparkfun PCB place (which is $10, plus $2.50 per inch, so for 10 units, $60 for me, not counting shipping).

But, the plus of the Arduino forum is there are many people here, and some of those people actually know about things like this. So, I bring you the question of who do you think is the best price for quality and time? Also, who is just the cheapest you know for small to medium-small purchases? (by that I mean 10-50 pcbs)

Pad2pad has a decent price at 200 units (for me, 1.18 per unit, plus shipping), which can be dropped a little more if I didn't mind cutting the boards into units (4 units per board, ~$0.70 per unit after the fact @100boards)

Anyone know of a better deal? Are they a decent company? It's actually cheaper to go with getting a bunch of ITeads stuff then pad2pad until you get into the larger unit counts. Who do you use?

(Sorry if this is the wrong forum. Please move it if it is.)

Well, you've got a very non-linear optimization problem on your hands :wink: What is your minimum trace/space width? Minimum hole size? Do you want silkscreen front and back? or just top? or none? What is the PCB size? How long are you willing to wait? etc. etc.

If you're looking for small boards in small quantities and you don't mind waiting then you've pretty much hit upon the common places: ITead, Seeedstudio, BatchPCB, and there's also DorkbotPDX, PCB-Pool, those are the main ones that come to mind.

The quality will be good enough from all places for hobbyist purposes. AFAIK they all use Chinese PCB manufacturers as a back end and PCB is pretty much a commodity there now. If you want electrical test, perfectly-aligned holes, super-flat pads, etc. then you're going to start paying more money and working directly with manufacturers.

The Gadget Shield: accelerometer, RGB LED, IR transmit/receive, speaker, microphone, light sensor, potentiometer, pushbuttons

How big are the boards you want? Give us something to go on.
This place will do 10" x 10" board for $95. Can you fit 100 1"x1" boards on there? We don't know, you haven't said how big your boards are.


I've used three of the services RuggedCircuits mentioned:

All personal experience so YMMV

BatchPCB: Good for just prototyping, slow, around 20+ days, Expensive handling $10, $2.5 per inch^2. Fabbed in China, shipped from US

DorkbotPEX: Good for prototyping and small production, medium, around 2 weeks but need to submit around a week before the batch make to get 2 week lead time. Cheaper, no SH, $5 per inch^2 for 3 copies Fabbed in US, shipped from US, claims to be lead free but the board is purple( :astonished:)

SeeedStudio: Good for small production, quantity is overkill for prototyping, slow, around 20+ days, cheap, $40 for 10 boards or less for smaller boards, SH included. Fabbed in China, shipped in China/Asia

Any troubles I ran into? No! I'm just that good of a designer :grin: (Come on, it's Sunday)

Well, I kind of left it open ended for those who may search the topic later, just seeing what good deals there may be.

My personal project is going to be an arduino clone, and will fit in a 50mm x 25mm space. (effectively 1in x 2in) Not very large at all. Accuracy for my project isn't all that important, but for others it may be.

If I used pad2pad for a more mass production, the price can get down to ~$.45-$.50 per unit, if I didn't mind cutting them apart... so that's the cheapest I've seen. On the 100sq in for $95, each unit would be $1.90, that's more expensive then ITead with only getting prototypes, with the cheapest shipping included is $16 for 10 units in 5cm x5cm or smaller. Drops to .80 if I wanted to put 2 units on one board and cut it (20 units total).


Im a student and im sitting with the same problem, Im getting my boards currently from www.jackaltac.com, they are the cheapest Iv found so far, check it out and if you find anyone cheaper please PM me


jackaltac is $154 for a 10" x 10" board. (245mm x 254 mm)

These guys are $95.

Try your sizes, see how it compares.

Not the cheapest, but I decided to go with ITead. Including shipping it's $1.60 USD each, buyable in 10 packs, for pcb's of 50mmx50mm or smaller. (~2in x 2in for those that don't know) Not the best price in the world, but $16 including shipping is the cheapest I have found for small batch numbers like what I need, also, shipping stacks a bit. $13 shipping with 10 unit costs (10 pcb's per item totalling 100 pcb's total) so $123 for 100 pcb's.

Closest after that is pad2pad, at $236 for 200, and that's not counting shipping. (which puts itead at $246 including shipping for 200, though I wouldn't get the 200 at once, as it seems their shipping cost system messes up and says $9,999 for shipping XD)

Anyway, seems like ITead is the best bang for buck until I want to start cutting my own boards apart. Maybe try and slot them through pad2pad. (it ends up being $0.46 if you get a 2x4in board and cut that into 4 units, but costs near $400 to do it that way, and I don't have the money at the moment, otherwise it's cheapest)

It was fairly easy to get the ITead files sent to them also. Had an issue with using the default Gerber export settings, so I had to download their cam, but they haven't said there was a problem since then, so should be good. Only problem I have is time XD Not really their fault. (I think they said 6-8 day lead time plus shipping time, so mid US is around 3 weeks to get the boards.)

O-o I just hope their quality is ok.